Getting to know Parosmia, the Post-Covid-19 Infection that Disturbs the Smell

You must have recently heard the term anosmia, which is the partial or complete loss of the sense of smell. This term is now widely known because it is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. However, have you ever heard the term parosmia?

Parosmia is also a health problem related to the sense of smell, but it is different from anosmia. To find out more, come on, see the full explanation below!

1. Parosmia makes sufferers smell bad

It’s not uncommon for you to smell a foul smell if you find trash or carcasses not far from you. However, it will be strange if you smell a foul odor but there is no source near you. This is a picture of parosmia.

As reported by WebMD, parosmia is a disorder that makes the smell of certain things or objects distorted. This occurs when the odor receptor cells in the nose, namely the olfactory sensory neurons, do not detect odors and translate them to the brain as they should. Usually, it smells bad even rotten or disgusting.

For example, when you smell a fresh and ripe banana, your nose will smell it as rotting flesh.

2. Parosmia is often caused by a viral infection

Parosmia is usually caused by damage to the olfactory sensory neurons in the nose. This damage can result from infections such as colds or viral infections (including COVID-19). Damage to the part of the brain that processes the sensation of smell can also cause parosmia.

Toxins, chemicals, neurological conditions, and certain medications can also interfere with or distort the sense of smell.

Other causes of parosmia include:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Certain drugs
  • Exposure to radiation, such as radiotherapy
  • Temporal lobe seizures
  • Toxic exposure
  • Viral infections
  • Upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds
  • Head injury
  • Sinus infection
  • Brain tumor
  • Constant dry mouth
  • COVID-19

3. Parosmia can cause depression

The smell is one of the important elements related to appetite. Losing this ability will of course affect appetite. As a result, weight loss can occur.

In severe cases, parosmia can make sufferers experience depression. This can happen if the person has a profession that is closely related to the sense of smell, such as a chef or perfume maker.

More than that, parosmia can also cause danger. For example, if there is a gas leak, the person with parosmia may not notice it.

Also Read: Can’t Smell, These are Symptoms of Anosmia and How to Treat It

4. Parosmia is related to COVID-19

illustration of parosmia and COVID-19 (pexels.com/Engin Akyurt)

Although the exact number of people who suffer from parosmia is unknown, according to a report in the journal BDJ In Practice published in February 2021, it was found that about half (56 percent) of people with anosmia are due to COVID-19 also experienced parosmia.

Researchers found that nearly half of the cohort (a group of people with similar characteristics, lived during a certain period, and had a similar history) of COVID-19 reported parosmia, with an average interval of 2.5 months from the initial symptoms of loss of smell, and this persisted. for 6 months in the majority of cases.

Another study in the 2020 journal Chemical Senses found that 7 percent of the more than 4,000 respondents reported a distorted sense of smell following a COVID-19 infection. However, experts say more information and more research are needed to better understand how COVID-19 can affect smell and taste.

5. Viruses can cause parosmia in three ways

Citing HowStuffWorks, there are at least three ways how viruses can affect smell and cause parosmia.

As described by Dr. Jennifer Grayson, director of ENT research at the University of Alabama, United States, first of all, this is due to a stuffy nose that causes swelling and prevents odor particles from reaching the olfactory nerves.

Second, a viral infection injures the tiny tentacles of nerves called fila. This wound causes a foul odor.

Finally, the virus causes inflammation to reach the brain and cause cell death associated with the olfactory nerve.

It all causes the brain to translate any odors you receive into unpleasant.

6. The best way to deal with parosmia is olfactory training

illustration of parosmia and olfactory exercises (news.sky.com)

Parosmia can indeed heal by itself. That means, over time your smell will return thanks to the regenerating receptor cells. However, for some people, the natural recovery process will take longer. To speed it up, train your sense of smell can be done.

People with parosmia will be trained to smell various odors. As reported by HowStuffWorks, there are at least four odors to focus on: floral, fruity, spicy, and resinous. Generally, the odor test will use roses, lemons, cloves, and eucalyptus objects.

The objects have been made into essential oils and dropped on earplugs. Participants in the olfactory training will smell the earplugs for approximately 10 to 20 seconds, which can be repeated several times before the participants switch to a different smell. The goal is that the nose adapts to one smell and can rest before moving on to the next smell.